Communiqué

broken_dawn_by_smbaird-d7w908s

We come from solid work stock, you and I,

and we walk these final miles with tired backs,

towards a paper-plated Friday night.

You search your purse for your keys while I

watch a slim parchment of moon

dissolve across the snow.

There are clues here, I think, to everything.

The accumulation of our wet breaths etches

a communiqué across the front door window,

but you erase it

with the heel of your glove before

it can be jotted down on one of our sagging calendars.

We wear the same boots we wore six years ago,

the same scarves,

through the same tired hallway,

you first,

and I close the door behind us and

the snow melt is already turning brown.

You glance

at the litter of words I scribbled this morning

on the old motel stationery beside the phone.

I forgot what I wrote,

maybe a dentist appointment, maybe a confession,

maybe a dream I wanted to tell you about

before I forgot.

Here in the darkness, we compare our days

with clumsy smiles and cold hands.

We come from solid work stock, you and I,

and the miles have fallen behind us.

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The yellow-leafed tree

The veil between dreams

My eyes abide the blighted light
of the yellow-leafed tree.
Please set my stone here
and let us both rest.
But please stop and listen —
I know you can hear it,
the grief in my spirit,

and you see the fraying of my days,
my finite breaths
fading away.

I still lean into old memories,
away from you,
away from who
I wanted to be.

I did not expect to be loved so well.

The storm

We sit cross-legged on the scatter rug and listen to the rain peck at the windows. The water fractures itself against the screen and it draws patterns I want to trace with my fingers. We have a box of candles on the kitchen table, for when the dark comes back inside. She leans into me whenever the rain turns loud, and her face is solemn and so still. Outside, the wind carves itself into the hickory trees. She can’t hear me offer up comfort, so I lean back into her. We listen. We wait.

The hemlocks

Forty years on,

she follows the path of his ghost,

a slender and thorned road

that leads to a ruined ecstasy.

Above the carpeted dirt,

she remembers the boy’s twitching mouth,

so unaccustomed to casual pleasure,

and the slow burn of tobacco between them.

The last of the afternoon light

dripped between the hemlocks

and fell upon bare shoulders.

And she, alone, still wonders

if he ever smelled the gunpowder.

Silence at the western fenceline

Silence at the western fenceline

We stare at the lines, divided,
you and I stark and misguided,
worn dull by day’s exhausted breath
we move on by hope of certain rest;
by day and by step, with faith our bequest
and by trust, and what it will cost us.